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Argentina vs France Prediction, Odds, and Pick: Breaking Down a World Cup Final With no Favorite

With Lionel Messi on the precipice of immortality, Argentina will be going all-out in the World Cup final against a France side potentially facing some key absences. See who will prevail as our betting picks break down this epic match.

Last Updated: Dec 18, 2022 8:19 AM ET Read Time: 4 min

After a month of hard-fought matches, tactical battles, and tons of storylines, the World Cup reaches the pinnacle on Sunday when Argentina and France face off in the final. Lionel Messi will make his final World Cup appearance, hoping to lift the trophy and achieve the one honor which has eluded him in his illustrious career. For France, they’re hoping to be the first nation to lift the trophy in consecutive tournaments for the first time in decades.

There is star power on both sides of the pitch, with Kylian Mbappe yet again stamping his name on the tournament for France. But talent alone will not be enough to win this matchup. Who will have what it takes to reach the summit and lift the trophy? Find out in our Argentina vs. France World Cup picks and predictions for the final on Sunday, December 18. 

Argentina vs France odds

Argentina vs France picks and predictions

Aside from a shocking five-minute spell in their opener against Saudi Arabia that saw them suffer a 2-1 upset defeat, Argentina have been near flawless in this tournament. Three of their six matches saw them walk away with a clean sheet and at least two goals. Their match with the Dutch went to penalties, but even that took the Netherlands pulling out two late goals, including a last-gasp free kick, to get that far. But that’s when keeper Emiliano Martinez yet again showed his shootout heroics, similar to last year’s Copa America campaign.

France has also won five of their six matches, but their 2-0 win over Morocco in the semifinal was their first clean sheet of the tournament — and one could argue they were fortunate to keep it. Morocco gifted them an early goal but it still took a phenomenal piece of skill from Theo Hernandez to capitalize, and Morocco at times were the more impressive side. In addition, France have reached the final despite having a lower xG than their opponents in both the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals. But they’ve gotten the job done, and look to become the first nation since Brazil 60 years ago to repeat as champions.

It would be so simple to make this about PSG teammates Messi and Mbappe facing off, but there is so much more to this matchup. The familiarity of players make for compelling storylines throughout this match. Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez — central defensive partners for Manchester United — find themselves on opposing sides. Rodrigo de Paul will be tasked with helping stop Atletico Madrid teammate Antoine Griezmann. Cristian Romero will be defending one goal while teammate Hugo Lloris denies attempts in the other.  

And it’s that familiarity that could make this match even more about intangibles than statistics or trends. Argentina is a team playing for more than a trophy. They’re fighting for their hero, their talisman, their leader. Look no further than last year’s Copa America final, where Messi was one of the worst players on the pitch that night. His teammates stepped their game up, lifting their captain — figuratively and literally — to a place he’d long attempted to reach. 

Tactically, Messi is in fine form, and he’s going to be perfectly set up to exploit the weakness that France’s last three opponents have attacked: the space behind Mbappe. If France forces Mbappe to help defend, it limits his ability to make those dangerous runs. If they don’t, Messi’s going to drift wide and put Hernandez in tough spots all match long.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this match was won in regulation, or if it went to penalties. It’s going to be thrilling to watch, and entertaining for hardcore and casual fans alike. But when it’s all over, Messi will raise the trophy and take his place alongside Diego Maradona as a national hero and one of the greatest players of all time.

My best bet: Argentina to lift the cup (-110 at bet365)

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Argentina vs France side analysis

Ok, now let’s dive into the tactics a bit more. Mbappe is averaging just 0.2 defensive actions per match, according to Opta, and it’s been putting Hernandez in tough spots. England exploited that area to perfection, and Morocco were able to create numerous chances from their right side as they had the highest percentage of attacking touches in that third of the pitch (more than half) of any team in the tournament.

Whether it’s Nahuel Molina or Gonzalo Montiel starting for Argentina at right back, neither will be on par with what England and Morocco threw at Mbappe to somewhat stifle his attacks. Kyle Walker and Achraf Hakimi were on another level, and I expect Mbappe will find a bit more involvement in this match. Griezmann has been pulling the strings for France in this tournament, and his showdown with teammate de Paul in midfield will also be of vast importance.

Reports on Friday indicated multiple key players missed training for France as an illness goes through the team. The bug kept midfielder Adrian Rabiot out of the semifinal match, and now Varane is a real question for the match. So is Varane’s partner from the Morocco match, Ibrahima Konate. 

Varane has been one of the best defenders in the tournament, and his loss — and experience against Messi from numerous El Clasico meetings — would be a massive blow. Hernandez is also dealing with a bit of a knee issue, and his brother Lucas is already out for the tournament.

Argentina have been waiting four years to exact some revenge for their 4-3 defeat in the 2018 group stage, where Mbappe introduced himself to the world. Prior to that, Argentina won all four of their previous meetings, including two at the World Cup. France has also won nine of their last 10 matches over the past two World Cups.

Argentina vs France Over/Under analysis

For two teams with such outstanding firepower in attack, the Under 2.5 goals is extremely juiced at the moment. That’s in large part due to the men between the sticks. Martinez and Lloris have been outstanding in this tournament, each making critical saves that won matches for their sides. You also have outstanding defensive talent in both squads.

But don’t sleep on the Over. First of all, as stated earlier France have kept just one clean sheet in the tournament. They also are sweating the availability of Varane, and if both he and Konate are out then you would have a partnership of Dayot Upamecano–who has been shaky at times–and either William Saliba or Jules Kounde, who would then have to slide over from right back. Either one causes issues for France, and gives Argentina a terrific advantage in attack.

There’s also the fact that Argentina have been hurt by teams with pace. Two of their three shutouts — against Poland and Croatia — were against sides that didn’t have a whole lot of speed on the counter. The Saudis showed what can happen on the break, and we all know what Mbappe can do in the open field. They’ve also had some issues in the air, and Olivier Giroud can bury a header if you give him space.

All that said, both nations have seen four of their six matches, respectively, in this tournament end with at least three goals, and they’ve each been individually held to fewer than two goals just once each. I’ll be taking the Over in this one, especially at that price, and I might even dabble a bit on the 3.5 Over as well. 

Argentina vs France game info

Location: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail, Qatar
Date: Sunday, December 18, 2022
Time: 10:00 a.m. ET

Argentina vs France key injuries

Argentina: Alejandro Gomez F (Out).
France: Raphael Varane D (Questionable), Ibrahima Konate D (Questionable), Lucas Hernandez D (Out).

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